Artists to Watch in 2020

collage of rappers

2020 will be remembered as the year of the pandemic and the creatives. As crazy as it sounds, I don’t think there’s ever been a better time to be a content producer. Whether you’re a musician, writer, blogger, vlogger, or whatever, this is your moment. The world is on hold, and all we have to keep us sane is the work of the artistically inclined among us who often don’t get the credit or attention that they deserve.

Since I have nothing but time on my hands, I’ve been able to reconnect with the thing that I love most — music. I feel like a kid in a candy store as I explore the music industry looking to discover my new favorite artists and rediscover some of my old ones.

Only time will tell which of today’s artists will be able to take advantage of the current situation, but these guys are off to a great start.

Chika

A picture of Chika
Source: Chika

I want to call her a hidden gem, but this young lady has been gaining momentum for quite some time. Chika went viral in 2018 for her freestyle, “A Letter to Kanye,” in which she was critical of the controversial stances taken by Mr. West. She amassed a large following through Instagram, but that freestyle put her name in the mouths of fans everywhere. Her following has steadily grown as more people get exposed to her irrefutable talent.

If you were in search of a female rapper to take who is capable of elevating the industry, you just found her. Chika isn’t some cookie-cutter femcee who is more popular for her sexuality than her bars. She’s attacking the industry with lyrical ninjutsu and a delivery that will send a chill down your spine.

Chika released her new EP, Industry Games, in March and has shown no signs of discontinuing her guerilla warfare style assault on the music industry. She’s in a class by herself. Do you want to know what real hip-hop sounds like? Listen to her new EP.

Imagine if she does something crazy like collaborate with D Smoke. That’s too much creativity on one track. I’m not sure that we could handle it.

Chika is an all-around talent who can sing and rap. If she doesn’t blow up, someone had better have some answers, because it would be nothing short of a tragedy if the rest of the world were denied the opportunity to hear her music.

D Smoke

A picture of D Smoke
Source: D Smoke

Meet the very first winner of Netflix’s Rhythm + Flow, D Smoke. Since winning the show, he’s been on a meteoric rise through the music industry and showcasing his all-around skills as a songwriter, a bi-lingual rapper, and a phenomenal musician. It’s no exaggeration to say that we’re witnessing the birth of a star.

You learn a lot about an artist from their debut album. It’s raw, unpolished, and unadulterated, and it gives you a clear glimpse into their soul. D Smoke didn’t disappoint with his first studio album, Black Habits. The content is deep, the production is flawless, and his flow is impeccable.

Best of all, it wasn’t a feature-heavy project, so we got to see if he could carry an album by himself. The result? I didn’t skip one single track, and I played the album on repeat a few times.

I’m excited to see what he has in store for us going forward.

Redman

Picture of Redman
Source: Redman

Reggie Noble, aka Redman, has been making music for longer than I can remember, and he’s still operating at a high level. Fans have been on the lookout for his much-anticipated album, Muddy Waters Too, but he started 2020 by blessing us with an EP titled 3 Joints. Guess how many songs were on it.

The first track that I heard from the project was Slap Da Shit Outcha. In classic Redman form, he gave us tight lyrics and a hilarious video. My neighbors must’ve thought that I was going insane as I laughed hysterically while nodding my head to the track.

Redman is a national treasure and must be protected at all costs. He must have something up his sleeve for 2020, so I’d advise fans, old and new, to stay tuned.

Run the Jewels

A picture of Run the Jewels
Source: Run the Jewels

After four long years, we’re finally getting another RTJ album, Run the Jewels 4. They’ve announced that the album is complete and will be released this year. The collective sigh of relief from fans could be heard around the world. To help hold fans over, they released a new single in March titled “Yankee and the Brave.” It was another hard-hitting track that displayed the lyrical prowess that we’ve come to expect from the group.

RTJ is renowned for cutting-edge production and masterfully crafted lyrics. When is the last time a duo complemented each other this well? They’re a match made in heaven.

Aside from having arguably the best logo in the industry, RTJ brings the heat every time they give us music, and this award-winning duo’s next album might be the most anticipated release of 2020.

J. Cole

Picture of J. Cole
Source: OKPlayer

He’s no stranger to the industry or the spotlight, and in 2020, J. Cole will finally give fans what they’ve been waiting for — a new album. At the end of 2019, Cole announced that we could expect a new album titled The Fall Off at some point in 2020. He’s the perfect blend of old school and new school that the game has been missing, so it’s easy to see why his announcement generated such a buzz.

We recently got to hear him on Gang Starr’s single “Family and Loyalty” off their 2019 release, One of The Best Yet, and it was obvious that he still has it. Cole might not release new music as often as I’d like, but I’m just grateful that he’s still doing it.

J. Cole has been giving us hits for a decade, and the music scene is much better when he’s an active participant.

Jered Sanders

Picture of Jered Sanders
Source: Jered Sanders

If you’re into boxes, you can classify Jered as a Christian rapper, but as far as I’m concerned, skills are skills. His content is kingdom-minded, but he’s an emcee to be reckoned with regardless of the subgenre. He’s been around for a little while now, and he’s currently signed to God Over Money records. I can’t say that I’ve been a fan since day one, but I’m glad that I finally sat down and listened to some of his music.

I was introduced to Jered through a single titled“All In” off of his latest album, Hope Is Dope 2. After listening to those three minutes and twenty-one seconds of lyrical heat, I went down the Jered Sanders YouTube rabbit hole. 

After listening to countless songs, the words “lyrical ambrosia” kept ringing in my head. I value lyrical content above all, and Jered is not lacking in that department. His album is full of thought-provoking bars and a classic boom-bap sound that will keep you moving.

When the world finally opens its eyes and pays this man some attention, he’s going to be a problem. It’s only a matter of time.

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